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Obama Calls For New Beginning Between U.S., Muslim World


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his much-anticipated message to the Muslim world from the auditorium in the Cairo University campus.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his much-anticipated message to the Muslim world from the auditorium in the Cairo University campus.

(RFE/RL) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a "new beginning" in relations between the United States and the Muslim world.

In a major speech at Cairo University, Obama said that the United States and Islam "need not be in competition" and that relations should be based "upon mutual interest and mutual respect."

He said violent extremists had exploited tensions between the West and Muslims, and that "Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace."

Obama reiterated the United States' support for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said Palestinians must abandon violence, but also said Israeli must halt settlements.

"The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security," Obama said. "That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires."

On Iran, he said the standoff over Iran's nuclear program was "not simply about America's interests," warning Iran could spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

He also said any nation, including Iran, had the right to peaceful nuclear power "if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."

Obama said the United States did not want to keep its troops in Afghanistan and did not seek military bases there.

"Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there," Obama said.

"We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case."

He said the United States learned from the war in Iraq that it needs to use diplomacy and seek consensus to resolve problems whenever possible.

with news agency material
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